For the 3rd Sunday ol Advent I bring you a children’s sermon on Luke 3:7-18. That’s right: in Year C the heretofore backward Advent journey to Bethlehem takes a halting step forward on week three.
(You can find my regular Monday Meditation on this text through this link.)
Last week we were with John the Baptist, as foreseen by Isaiah, calling all to make straight paths for the coming Messiah.
This week we continue that same scene in a series of conversations between John the Baptist and various repentant people trying to figure out which mountains to mow down and which valleys to fill up.
What’s the particular challenge of writing a children’s sermon on Luke 3:7-18? I suppose it’s trying to avoid sounding too scary, or too angry. John really tears into them at the start of the passage.
Can I avoid doing that and still be on target biblically? You tell me, either in the comments or by email.
A Children’s Sermon on Luke 3:7-18
Good morning kids! I’m so glad you’re here at worship today. Thanks so much for coming up to hear the children’s sermon.
Happy third Sunday of Advent! We’re past the half-way point on our journey to Christmas. We’re getting closer and closer to our celebration of the birth of Jesus.
You may remember how our gospel readings have been taking us the long way on our journey to Bethlehem.
- Two weeks ago we were way in the future, waiting for Jesus to come back at the end of the age.
- Last week we were with John the Baptist waiting for the grown-up Jesus to start his ministry.
Well, where are we this week?
We’re still with John the Baptist, waiting for the grown-up Jesus!
Trying to Take the Easy Way
In last week’s story, John the Baptist was out in the wild lands along the River Jordan. He was telling people to get ready for the Messiah to com.
“The Messiah is coming!” John would tell them. “It’s my cousin Jesus! He’s the one the prophets said would come and save us!”
Once enough people had listened to his message John would tell them how to start getting ready. “If you want to get ready for the Messiah, you need to come down into the river and I’ll wash you, head to toe.”
“Okay,” said one grumpy guy in the crowd, “let’s get this over with.”
And he walked down to join John the Baptist by the river’s edge:
“What do you mean ‘get it over with’?” asked John.
“You said I need to get washed in the water,” he said. “Let’s get it done so I can get back to work. I’ve got a lot to do, and this is wasting too much time.”
“Look,” said John, “I understand that you need to get back to your job. But it doesn’t really sound like you’re taking this seriously.”
“What’s so serious?” the grumpy guy asked. “You said if I got washed I’d be ready for the Messiah. Wash me up fast. I’m a busy man.”
“Maybe you missed part of the message,” said John. “Getting washed just shows you’re ready. It’s God’s way of showing you that he’s giving you a new clean start on life. But there’s more to getting ready. You need to learn a new way of thinking. That’s what will help you figure out what to do with your new clean life.”
Some of the people standing nearby heard what John said to the grumpy guy. So they stepped up closer to ask some questions.
“What do you mean when you say we need a new way of thinking?” they asked.
“It’s like this,” said John. “We all grow up thinking mostly about ourselves. We know God made us, but we don’t think about it much. To be ready for the Messiah, you need to start to see the world the way God sees it.”
“What do you mean?” they asked. “How does God see the world?”
“For one thing,” John said, “God sees that he made the whole world, and everything in it. It belongs to him, and not to us. For another thing, God loves every single person he made. He loves you. But he also loves your neighbor. Even if your neighbor isn’t very nice.”
John didn’t mean to, but he glanced at the grumpy guy when he said that.
“And we’re supposed to think that way too?” someone asked.
“Exactly,” said John.
“But that’s gonna take a lot of work.” said the grumpy guy. “That’s gonna take a lot of time.”
“Think of it like planting a tree,” said John. “You start right now: you plant a seed. Then you water it—maybe by coming into this river. Eventually the good seed grows into a good tree. And a good tree starts to grow good fruit. You all need to grow some fruit!”
Kinds of fruit.
One of the people standing by said, “So what kinds of fruit do you think we should be growing?”
“The main thing,” said John, “is you need to care for the people God loves. If you have more than enough clothes, and you find out someone doesn’t have enough clothes—well then, share. Same with food. If you have more than enough, and your neighbor doesn’t have enough—then share.”
“What about me?” asked the grumpy guy. “I’m a tax collector. What should I do?”
John said, “Do the right thing. Collect just the correct, honest amount. No cheating.”
“What about us?” asked a couple big guys, who were wearing armor and swords. “We’re police officers. What should we do?”
John said, “You have that job to help people. So do the right thing. Don’t use your power to scare people, or hurt people, or to get money. Help people instead.”
“I don’t know,” said the grumpy guy. “This sounds like a lot of work. Seems kind of depressing.”
“Actually,” said John, “it’s really good news. The Messiah is really coming. And he really wants to be with you. And if you grow that seed so you bear good fruit, you’ll be ready to be with him!”
- I wonder if anyone today thinks that all we really need to do is get baptized to be ready for Jesus to come?
- I wonder what could help you learn to think the way God thinks?
- I wonder what would help God’s way of thinking grow like a big strong tree inside you?
- I wonder what kind of good fruit could come from you when you think the way God thinks?
You are, of course, free to use this children’s sermon, or adapt it as you find most useful. But, if you use it, please do one (or more!) of the following.
- You can let me know that you are using it, either in the comments below, or using the contact form above.
- You can put a little notice in your church bulletin that your children’s sermon is adapted from one published on GaryNealHansen.com.
- You can support my work over on Patreon. (Just $1 per month brings my children’s sermons straight to your inbox about two minutes after they go live. And every little bit keeps me going…)